It’s a tough job market out there, and those who have learning disabilities (LD) have a harder time getting – and keeping – a job. According to NCLD’s 2011 report, “The State of Learning Disabilities,” “adults with LD face challenges with employment, most likely due to a lack of educational attainment. The unemployment rate for those with LD was twice (5.7%) that of those without LD… Just over half of adults with LD reported being employed (54.8%) while the rate for those without LD was 76.4%.”
If you’re an adult with LD, how can you improve your job marketability? And if you’re the parent of a soon-to-graduate high school student, how can you help them think about their future employment opportunities? While many high school graduates with LD will pursue a four-year college degree, that’s not the only (or necessarily the first) step to take in preparing for the job market.
Two out of every three workers who have a certificate and a college degree earned the certificate first, an indication that certificates can serve as a stepping stone on the way to a college degree.
Certificates almost always take less than two years to complete, and more than half take less than one year. They also often pay off more than two-year degrees and sometimes pay off more than four-year degrees.
For incumbent workers, certificates can be the most effective way to catch up, keep up and get ahead in their chosen field. For the unemployed and underemployed, certificates can offer a jumpstart in the labor market.
On average, certificate holders earn 20 percent more than high school-educated workers. Even when certificates don’t provide much of an earnings boost, they can make individuals more employable, giving them access to valuable learning on the job.
Certificates add value to degrees. The combination of a certificate and a degree has a measurable positive effect.
On average, college degree holders earn more than workers with certificates; but many certificate holders earn more than workers with Associate’s degrees and some earn more than workers with Bachelor’s degrees.
Note: If you’re a parent of a high school student with LD, a key first step is to make sure your student is on track for a regular high school diploma. Having a regular diploma will mean they’re better positioned for both post-secondary education opportunities and the job market.